Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey” as Want to Read:
My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  432 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews


For John Wooden's millions of fans--a heartfelt and revealing self-portrait about the people and events that shaped his life

Sports Illustrated declared: "There has never been a finer coach in American sports than John Wooden. Nor a finer man." ESPN selected him as the "Greatest Coach of the 20th Century." From his birth on an Indiana tenant farm, t

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 14th 2004 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Personal Best, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Personal Best

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Lee Richardson
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great, quick, read by the great John Wooden. The book is an autobiography of Wooden's life, in which he weaves in his personal life philosophy and lessons learned throughout his life. We start with Wooden's childhood in Indiana, his playing career at Purdue, his initial coaching career, and his eventual move to California, where he achieved all time coaching status at UCLA.

The core message of the book is that a central goal should be trying to do your personal best, regardless of the outcomes
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book "My Personal Best" was the life story of John Wooden, a famous and successful basketball coach, from childhood to retirement. He tells his life story, along with the many guidelines he followed in his life. These include mentors he had growing up, poems he read, and little sayings that reminded him how to be the best person he could be his entire life. The entire book builds up through his childhood and career, to finish with the point that we can't be perfect, but we can do our persona ...more
Cruz Ramos
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book really brought tears to my eyes, a great read for any person of influence!
Brad Sherry
First Checkpoint: #2
The main character of this book is John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches to ever live. This book, My Personal Best, written by John Wooden with Steve Jamison, is a memoir of John’s life. As a result, the book goes in chronological order according to John’s life. So, at the beginning of the book, John is just a kid growing up on his Indiana farm, telling us about the people around him. I’m sure his views have changed since he was a boy, but I’m not so sur
Cole Ours
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“My Personal Best”, the story of John Wooden, his life and lessons learned along the way. John Wooden the famed UCLA basketball coach who won 10 National Championships writes this book telling about his life telling the things he learned throughout his life regarding basketball and just life in general. Using things learned from his dad as a child as well what he learned in his early coaching career to achieve what he did. With these things creating the “Pyramid of Success” with which he based h ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
John Wooden, a basketball coaching legend, won 10 national championships in his 27 years at UCLA, but it was his honest and positive approach to life that won him a multitude of fans. This book chronicles some of the biggest moments of his life and how they influenced him, from his father reading poetry to he and his brothers to the death of his beloved Nell in 1985. He loved his family, respected others, and was always striving for success, on the court and off.

Jason and I read this aloud to ea
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Prior to living in southern California, I didn't really know who John Wooden was, except that he was a basketball coach. Now I know he was much more than that; he is a legend.

Coach Wooden discusses his life, from his early days playing basketball on an uneven dirt court with fruit baskets to shoot into, to the passing of his beloved wife. He talks about the great influence of his father and coaches who lovingly taught him to always do his best. He openly shares the mistakes he made, both as a p
Gary Schantz
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I specifically read this book because it was Father's Day. I was certainly looking for some fatherly and grandfatherly stories to draw some wisdom from.

So reading a book written by John Wooden seemed like a great idea. I was not disappointed at all.

Anyone who thinks that this is a book only about how to coach a basketball team would be pleasantly surprised. Yes, this is a book by a man considered by many to be the greatest college basketball in history. However, this is also a book about a man c
Joe Rodeck
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it

Reads like a written in two weeks Reader's Digest or Scholastic Edition. Too much always do your best/ practice makes perfect preaching. But any bio of the master is better than nothing.

Good advice for coaches in player handling. Wooden's style was all about speed: fast break, full court press.

Amazing that he kicked around UCLA since 1948 before the first championship in '64. For skeptics who think it was all about talent and giant centers, they won their first championship with a 6'5" center; a
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more stars, I would! I bought this book for John for Fathers' Day after seeing a vignette on ESPN after John Wooden's recent passing. I knew it would be the kind of thing that John would like. The book sat on the back of our toilet, so I picked it up and read it over the course of a few days. THis is a remarkable little book. Truly wise and inspiring! I know very little about basketball, but the principles he used to guide his team and his own life are universal and tim ...more
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was so much more than just a book on basketball and coaching. It was a great parenting and leadership book. John Wooden was the coach for the UCLA Bruins and won 10 of 12 NCAA championships between 1964 and 1976. I found it fascinating to read for many reasons, one of which was that I wanted to be a coach and my major in college was just that for three years until I changed it. There are many great quotes in this book. My favorite was "Talent is god given; be humble, Fame is man given; be t ...more
Nikolas Gheiler
I'm on page 208 of 208 and this was one of the best books i have ever read in my life (so far). At first John wooden as a young boy was kinda cranky and annoyed because of his parents raising him in such a strict way But then later on John wooden thanked his parents for raising him in such a strict. The way that John Wooden was raised (strict) led to him in my opinion being the best coach ever along side Phil Jackson. Everyone in the world i have to tell you something READ THIS BOOK!!!!!
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sports fan
Recommended to Jenn by: I think Becky Fellows
He had a great philosophy about life and coaching basketball. He was more concerned with his players being good people and offering up their "personal best" and good team members than winning games. He had many sound and solid words to live by and it is no wonder he became one of the best coaches ever.

I love his qoute:

Talent is God-given: be humble
Fame is man-given: be thankful
Conceit is self-given: be careful
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
My mom gave this to me for my birthday in 2006. I read it in two nights. You have to have a ton of respect for this man and what he accomplished. He knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it.

Few people knew it took him many years to win his first NCAA tournament. His perserverence and meticulus attention to detail makes you wonder what you can do to improve your systems and processes.
marcus miller
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Great advice from a great coach and person. Wooden shares advice based on his experience's in life. He freely gives credit to the people who shaped him and humbly admits his mistakes. Building on the Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" should help most people succeed, not just on the basketball court, but also in life.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic autobiography by perhaps the greatest basketball (and maybe any sport) coach ever. It outlines the important people and events in his life, and the significant life lessons that he learned from each. While it is a great book for college basketball fans, I think the lessons that Wooden emphasizes are important for people from all walks of life.
Donna Sandidge
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wooden was a man of immense character and integrity! His book is inspirational and easy to read, with plenty of interesting photographs. I don't love watching basketball but I still enjoyed the descriptions of the earlier era of the sport. This is a must-read for any pre-teen or teen sports oriented boy or girl!!
Bob Busk
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing man with lessons for life.....little things make big things happen, no player is bigger or better than the team, little things done well is probably the greatest secret to success, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, patience is a most valuable asset for a many lessons from the basketball court and life. People like John do not come around that and grow.
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I would recommend reading this book before Mind Gym and combining their principles. Its all about doing the best you can do and feeling satisfied with your efforts. You don't need a trophy to know you did your personal best.
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Solid book about leadership. I used it to help my AVID students think about leadership and found that I learned just as much. Wooden has such great advice for success and tells his story well. This isn't a long text, but you get a good look at how Wooden became such a success.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I wish this book had gone into a little more detail about his life but it was a great book. I loved all the mottos he lived his life by. Very inspirational! One of my favorite quotes is, "The best way to improve your team is to improve yourself."
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bruins, sports fans, people who like to be inspired
Learning about Coach Wooden's life was an eye opening experience. I have the utmost respect for the choices he's made and way he has lived his life. The chapter on meeting his wife, Nell, is truly touching.
Janet Anne
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A more in-depth look at Coach John Wooden's life. I'd read "Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court" in college, so this was a bit of a refresher with more details about his personal life and less about his teachings. Would definitely recommend & reread!
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a well written book and a quick read. I liked how John Wooden told his life story and intermingled it with things when and how he learned lifes lessons. He was an amazing coach but more important he is a great man.
Robert Scrivner
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of John Wooden, basketball, or self-improvement, then this is a great read. The book is a quick read but it takes you through John Wooden's life, his take on success, and his thoughts on his couching and his teams throughout the years. A very worthwhile read.
Naomi Flinders
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I would recommend reading this book before Mind Gym and combining their principles. Its all about doing the best you can do and feeling satisfied with your efforts. You don't need a trophy to know you did your personal best.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Another great book for coaches.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
Straight forward autobiography about John Wooden former coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team. Recommended to me by Barb's brother. Although he was a legend, the book ain't so much so.
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any aspiring Coach
A must read for any aspiring coach; his approach clearly worked well in basketball and can be applied to many other coaching/mentoring environments.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
What an amazing coach and man. He was raised with such great values and he passed those on to all those he encountered.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Story of My Life
  • My Life in Court
  • The Man to See
  • The End of Anger: A New Generation's Take on Race and Rage
  • Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy
  • A Nation of Immigrants
  • Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality
  • Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made
  • In the Shadow of the Law
  • The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law
  • Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century
  • The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team
  • To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever
  • And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank
  • The Horse's Mouth
  • Respect for Acting
  • Slow Food Revolution: A New Culture for Eating and Living
  • Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life
John Robert Wooden is a retired American basketball coach. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. His 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college bas ...more
More about John Wooden